Sometimes it feels like all I accomplish in a single day is quenching my childrens’ thirst. Is it like this in your house? Is it a national emergency when you forget a freshly filled Sigg bottle for the hour-long road trip? Do you find yourself filling and refilling sippy cups and drinking glasses and thermoses all day long to the earsplitting chorus of Mom! I’m Thirsty!? Unless it’s mealtime, at which point I always forget (always!) to set out the drinks or have one of the kids do it for us until the moment I collapse my tired body into a dinner table chair. My friend Lori, with whom I worked on the Real Simple Dinner Doula story, said that the single best piece of advice I ever gave her about family dinner was to get the kids’ drinks on the table before doing any cooking. The task was just annoying and afterthought-y enough to set the wrong tone for the meal she worked so hard to get on the table. I will take this so-stupid-it’s-smart tip one step further: When you are entertaining, fill the water glasses and sippy cups before the first doorbell ringing. Then you won’t have to root around matching lids to cups for the 2-year-old at the very moment the sauce is treading the fine line between deglazing and disappearing.
Speaking of thirsty guests. I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a few wine suggestions for the grown-ups. These come from Andy, who doesn’t claim to know much about wine, but enjoys drinking it*. Probably best to go with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a hardier Rose — if you are serving traditional Thanksgiving fare. Prices are approximate and based mostly on current prices at wine.com and our local wine store.
Louis Jadot ($15); La Crema ($19), Norton Ridge ($20), Simi ($22); Talley ($25-$30), Neyers ($25-$30); Off-the-Chain Options: Ramey ($40+), Kistler ($50+)
Castle Rock ($12), Norton Ridge ($19), Veranda ($15-$20); Bouchaine ($25-$30); Off-the-Chain Option: Schoolhouse ($65+), Paul Hobbs ($75+)
Muga ($15-$20), Tavel Chateau De Trinquevedel ($18-20)
Illustration is by Jessica Zadnik, who also drew the cool pix for the cookbook, and the DALS’ official Picky Eater Taxonomy.
*Andy actually does know a lot about wine. He logged into this post when I wasn’t looking and added that sentence thinking I might not notice.
[Read more →]
You know how grateful I am for all you do for the family. How grateful I am for your mastery of the grill, for your patience and stamina at playtime (how did I miss both of those qualities on Parenting Skills Hand-out Day?), for your unfailingly impeccable musical taste. (I fully recognize that if it weren’t for you, our children would likely be on a steady listening diet of Billy Joel and Edie Brickell.) But. But. But. But. Would you please look in that recycling bin up there? That was last week’s tally of alcohol intake and though you know how much I believe in equality in this marriage, I feel it’s necessary to place the blame for my now non-negotiable 6:00 cocktail squarely on you and your long line of alcohol enthusiasts. As you know, I come from a long line of Westchester Jews, from a house where there was always an Entenmann’s cake in the snack drawer and a lone, unopened bottle of Creme de Menthe in the liquor cabinet. And yet, since we’ve had kids, since I’ve been working on various demanding jobs and assignments, I now find myself looking at the clock every two minutes from 5:30 leading up to 6:00, or, as your father would say, leading up to that blessed moment when “the sun goes over the yardarm.” I used to be such a nice Jewish girl and now I find myself keeping a mental tally of our wine supply as though it’s as basic a staple as milk or peanut butter. I find myself getting the Bombay Sapphire out at 5:56, the highball glass out at 5:57, the ice cubes stacked up at 5:58, the lime sliced at 5:59 and then waiting, waiting, waiting that interminable 60 seconds until I can mix in my fizzy tonic and start to sip. I find myself thinking things like I could never have another baby because it would mean giving up nine months of Yardarms. So anyway, thanks a lot. And thank your Syrah-drinking Mom, your vodka-tonic drinking Dad, and your Old Fashioned-drinking Grandma (may she rest in peace) for me, too. Love, Jenny
You’re scaring me. Looking at the clock every two minutes? Waiting, waiting, waiting? As basic as milk? You can blame me for leading you to water, but come on: you can’t blame me for your thirst. Anyway, thank you for the kind words on the parenting front, and while my mastery of the grill is highly debatable, I’ll return the compliments a million fold: were it not for you, I would, in addition to being a much less fulfilled and happy person, probably still be eating penne with Ragu Robusto every night in front of the Yankees game after the kids went to bed.
I would also probably not be addicted to dessert.
When I was growing up, the son of an Italian mom, dessert was something you had on special occasions. On somebody’s birthday, we’d have a Duncan Hines cake. In the summer, when the peaches were running wild, we’d have a cobbler on Saturday night. During the holidays, we’d make a huge batch of Christmas cookies, and we’d frost them as a family. But most nights, we’d have nothing. Or, at the most, some fruit. You know, like normal people. And then I met you. For you – and for the Rosenstrach clan at large, no offense beloved in-laws – dessert is just a given, a natural extension of dinner. And lunch. And snacks, too. You eat something non-sweet, you follow it with a dessert. I’m not talking here about an Oreo or two, or an occasional bowl of ice cream. I’m talking about the heavy artillery. Chocolate truffle cakes. Chocolate mousse cakes. Chocolate candy bars. Dove ice cream bars. Babka. Sticky buns. Chocolate croissants. Mallomars. Chocolate covered raisins…and peanuts…and almonds. The truly insidious thing about all this stuff, for a non-dessert guy like me, is that it tastes really really good. God, does it taste good. So, over the years, as you wore me down, I started to indulge a little, then a little more, and next thing I knew, I started needing – not craving; needing — a dessert after every meal. When I finish dinner these days, I head straight for the pantry (with the kids right behind me) for my fix, and do you realize what I see when I open it up? Seriously, have you looked lately? A bar of 72% dark chocolate. And a bar of Swiss milk chocolate, since Abby likes milk chocolate so much better. Oh, and a ONE POUND bar of dark chocolate with almonds from Trader Joe’s. And a box of chocolate mints. And some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies, Phoebe’s favorite. And do you know what the worst part is? I bought all of it! The only person I can blame is myself, which is always a terrible place to be.
Do you see what you’ve done to me?
P.S. It’s not Crème de Menthe in your dad’s “liquor cabinet,” by the way. It’s Tia Maria, which tastes like coffee, and if you carbon-dated that bottle, I think you’d find it’s older than Mexico itself.
P.P.S. That recycling bin photo was doctored.
[Read more →]